Oxford. Clarendon Press. 1985. 420 pages
It is conventional to begin descriptions of Islamic movements with biographical sketches of their leaders. This norm operates at the level of the primary internal sources and in much of the secondary literature. I have minimized that approach because of my focus on the jihaad and the constituencies that sustained it. For that reason I placed what is known about Umar's childhood in Chapter 2. But there is a more compelling argument for starting this chapter with Tijaniyya affiliation and pilgrimage: it was to these credentials that Umar and his followers traced his authority. The Tal family was not very important. Fuuta-Tooro was a fragmented state that had left its days of glory behind. The basis for a distinguished career on the West African Islamic stage would have to come from another direction. Umar and the internal chroniclers, in recognition of this fact, begin their sustained story in the 1820s.
That story starts in the obscurity of a little known scholar and pilgrim. It gathers momentum on the return from Mecca as savannah Muslims respond and form the cohort of support which Umar had never known before. It is from this time that the sources become more abundant and the picture of events more detailed.
The Tijaniyya Sufi order began in North Africa under the inspiration and organization of Ahmad al-Tijani (1737-1815). Its strength was concentrated in Algeria, where Tijani was born and pursued his early career, and Morocco, especially Fez, where he completed his work and was buried. Its appeal stemmed from the founder's charisma and claims to direct revelation from the Prophet 1. A Tijaniyya member, by following the prescribed rituals, joining a lodge, and meditating on the founder and his message, acquired divine guidance and a sense of superiority over other Sufis. He could circumvent the long chains of scholarly and spiritual authority that were maintained in some circles, such as those of the Qadiriyya. He would not be called to share the asceticism characteristic of some orders, and his life would be more in harmony with the movements of reform current in the Islamic world at that time 2. The Tijaniyya spread in North and West Africa for reasons such as these, but it followed the lines of local social cleavage and acquired different images in different regions 3.
By the early nineteenth century the followers of Tijani were communicating the new allegiance along the trans-Saharan routes. A certain Abdul Karim of Fuuta-Jalon was studying in southern Mauritania. He joined the order, returned home and initiated Umar into the basic rituals in Timbo 4. The two men then agreed to visit the founder's tomb in Fez and make the pilgrimage to the Holy Cities. But first they would go to Hamdullahi, the capital in 'praise to God', to respond to Seku Amadu's invitation to witness the achievements of West Africa's newest Muslim Fulbe regime 5.
It was an exciting moment to travel in the savannah and make the pilgrimage. An energetic Muslim could visit the Sokoto confederation and the immediate successors to Uthman. Now Maasina had given promise of establishing an even more thoroughgoing Islamic society in the Middle Niger. In addition, Tijaniyya communities were growing in the Sahara and savannah. All of these developments fell within the thirteenth century of the faith (178?-1882), when Muslims expected revival, turmoil, and possible final judgement 6. Someone like Umar might reasonably hope to see the Dar al-Islam extend throughout the savannah in his lifetime.
The pilgrimage from the Western Sudan was none the less rare in the early nineteenth century 7. It required several years of time, a great deal of energy and endurance, and considerable financial means. Umar did not have the personal resources to mount such an enterprise. He returned from Fuuta-Jalon to Fuuta-Tooro, overcame the objections of his family, and secured enough support to undertake the journey, probably as a kind of representative pilgrim for Toro. He may have received contributions from the Muslim traders and teachers of St Louis 8.
The “Futanke of Gede” made little impression on his trip to the east (see Chapter 2, Map 2). He had not established a reputation. He could not afford a large following: his brother and a few others were his only companions. In Maasina he discovered that Abdul Karim could not make the journey and that the route across the Sahara to Fez was too dangerous. This forced him to continue east to Nigeria, where the long-simmering conflict of Sokoto and Bornu caused another change in itinerary. He headed north through Air and probably joined the annual pilgrimage caravan, which originated in the Tuat oases and pushed east to Fezzan and Cairo 9. The traditions that Umar went through the Upper Niger and Volta basins are almost certainly apocryphal claims designed to reinforce the position of local lineages 10.
Umar spent over two and a half years in the Near East. The historian is forced to rely on his words for almost every detail of the stay 11. The pilgrim had a tunnel vision of Mecca, Medina, and Cairo. He reflects nothing of the struggle between Wahhabis and Muhammad Ali nor the larger Ottoman context. He was concentrating on his own spiritual credentials. This meant the hajj, or pilgrimage, which he accomplished in each of three years (1828-30) and which formed the chronological framework of his stay. More important still was the relationship with Muhammad al-Ghali, a North African appointed by Ahmad al-Tijani as the Khalifa or “deputy” of the order for the Hijaz. Umar initially secured a kind of apprenticeship with his new patron:
I met him [Muhammad al-Ghali] in Holy Mecca, in the afternoon in the place of Ibrahim. We conversed for a little while. He was glad to see me and respected me for my honesty. He presented me with a [copy of] Jawahir al-Ma'ani [an official biography of al-Tijani], which I still possess, so that I might look into it. I stayed with him until we finished performing the ceremonies. After they were over I departed with him to al-Madina. We entered al-Madina on the first day of Muharram [ 14 July 1828]. I spent that year attached to him in Medina …. I surrendered myself to him with all my possessions, I let myself be guided by him 12.
After a period of time Umar became Ghali's “personal servant and chamberlain…. It was necessary for me to abandon many activities that I was engaged in, such as learning, writing and the search for truth …. I was often rebuked and forced to repent when I tried to ask about some of the secrets of the order, but I remained patient until God helped me achieve my goals” 13. Ghali imparted more and more of the secrets of the Tijaniyya to his willing pupil. Finally, after the third pilgrimage in June, 1830, the deputy consented to entrust the final revelation in the Garden of the Prophet : “He made me one of the Khalifas of the Shaikh [al-Tijani] and gave me permission to perform all of the acts of a khalifa He dictated the licence [of khalifa] which I then wrote down 14”. The licence included authorization to use all of the Tijaniyya rituals and recitations, appoint his own lieutenants, direct spiritual retreats and seek divine guidance through the formula called istikhaara 15. For Umar this was a giant step forward in his quest for knowledge and distinction. Segu 3/Cam also declares that Ghali commissioned Umar to “sweep paganism from the countryside”, with special reference to the Western Sudan 16. This commission is not confirmed in any other source, however, and it does not fit with the intense concentration on the Tijaniyya connection. Cam and the Segu court are here seeking to push the authorization for the military jihaad back to the fount of legitimacy, Muhammad al-Ghali, rather than to trace its emergence through later events.
The rest of Umar's stay in the Near East was eventful as well. He probably visited Damascus and Jerusalem. He had a child, Fatima of Medina, in 1829 17. He wrote his first major work, a long poem on Sufi apprenticeship and the responsibility of Muslims to command the right and forbid the wrong 18. He participated in a number of miracles which subsequently found their way, through Rimah, into the internal chronicles. The most important event, in the eyes of Umar's West African constituency, occurred in Cairo at the famous university of Al-Azhar. There the pilgrim reputedly took on Egypt's finest scholars in a contest of Islamic lore and emerged victorious. For inhabitants of the “land of the blacks” accustomed to the pretensions of superiority of the Moorish clerics of the desert, this added greatly to the aura of Umar 19. The story went hand-in-hand with Umar's appointment by al-Ghali, who replaced the earlier affiliation through southern Mauritania. The Tijaniyya, with its short cuts through the chains of authority, was poised for a period of rapid expansion in the savannah.
Umar's status as haajj and khaliifa, together with his new confidence in his knowledge and spiritual power, ensured that the return journey through the savannah would not go unnoticed. After the narrow focus of the previous years, the pilgrim would face the political, economic, and social realities of West Africa. His commission to establish the Tijaniyya would force clashes with entrenched Qadiriyya interests. To some extent Umar wished for this interaction, for he wasted no time returning to the savannah in 1831. This is not to belittle his oft-repeated statement that he did not frequent kings and sultans 20, but to indicate that in the atmosphere of high anticipation a man as talented and ambitious as Umar could not remain isolated from politics.
It is appropriate to give here some physical representation of the Shaikh, as his followers would now call him. Amid the abundance of documents, descriptions are quite rare. The best that I have found comes from Paul Soleillet, the French explorer who journeyed to Segu in 1879 and constructed a composite picture from the memories of people there. He begins with a visual impression :
The Shaikh was always simply clothed : a small calico cap, short turban, white shirt and pants covered with a light blue robe, and yellow slippers …. In his hand he carried a small metal pot and, on important occasions, one of his two canes …. He was strikingly handsome. His eyes were clear, his skin bronzed, his features symmetrical. His beard was black, long, soft and divided at the chin. He wore no mustache.
Soleillet goes on to the more reverential recollections of admirers:
[Umar] seemed never to be more than thirty years old. No one ever saw him blow his nose, spit, sweat, or complain of being warm or cold. He could go indefinitely without eating or drinking. He never seemed to tire of riding, walking, or remaining seated on a mat.
His voice was gentle, but it had extraordinary carrying quality. He never laughed nor cried, he never got angry. His face was always calm and smiling … 21
The subsequent narrative will challenge some of the assertions of Soleillet's informants, but it will also bear out the impression of a most remarkable man.
The pilgrim scholar took about nine years to make his way across the savannah. About six of those years were spent in Sokoto, but he also spent significant periods of time in Bornu, Maasina, and Segu. The data are more abundant than for the Near Eastern period and permit some reasoned reflection on Umar's connections to local situations.
In 1831 Bornu was under the control of al-Kanemi, the cleric who had come to the fore during the struggle between the Mai and the jihadists fighting under the flag of Uthman. Al-Kanemi had consolidated his hold, made Kukawa the effective capital of the state, and forced the royal dynasty to accept largely ceremonial functions. Relations had improved slightly with Sokoto. Kukawa was more concerned about the north and specifically Tripoli, where the French, the British, and the local dynasty were competing for influence underneath a nominal Ottoman suzerainty 22. The Fezzan oases organized around Murzuk, where al-Kanemi had completed most of his education, consistently reflected the struggles at the coast, and 1831 was no exception. As the Tripoli Pasha's power declined, the Awlad Sulaiman warriors revolted and took possession of Fezzan. Their leader, Abdul Jalil, was already well known in Bornu, where he had helped al-Kanemi consolidate his control between 1818 and 1820 23. The turmoil was not resolved in Tripoli until the Ottomans took direct control in 1835, and not in Murzuk until 1842, when Abdul Jalil was finally dislodged and killed.
Bornu's traditional anxiety about its northern outlet “source of guns and consumer of slaves—was thus heightened at precisely the time of Umar's passage, and it is in that context that the fragmentary comments about that passage make sense. The pilgrim made a strong impression in Murzuk, apparently persuading the influential qaadi (“judge”) and his entourage to affiliate with the Tijaniyya 24. On the journey south Umar wrote an “admonition” to Bornu and Sokoto about the “evils of conflict among Muslims”. While he did not condemn either side, he did take a superior position and suggested that the two sides had let power obscure their religious commitments 25. This could hardly have endeared him to al-Kanemi, himself a notable scholar and pilgrim and a practitioner of politics for several decades.
In Bornu itself, Umar was able to gather a community of followers, teach them the rituals of the Tijaniyya, and challenge some of the practices sanctioned by local clerics. In an exchange of correspondence of which only a letter from Umar has survived, we learn that the pilgrim, at al-Kanemi's insistence, had forced his followers to cease the public recitation of certain chants 26. One of the followers was apparently a young member of the Mai lineage who received a specific licence to practice the Tijaniyya 27.
It is in this total context that one should interpret Umar's striking statement that he had a “sharp difference” with the “Sultan of Bornu” which led to three efforts to have him assassinated 28. This passage is a proof text from a chapter of Rimah. designed to show that Umar's enemies were not able to carry out their desires because of the protection afforded by at-Tijani, but it does indicate hostility and physical threat. Umar had, after all, approached Bornu from a sensitive direction at a critical time. He had secured influential followers in Murzuk. He might well be a spy for one of the factions in Fezzan or Tripolitania. In Bornu he spurned the mosques, created his own group and disturbed convention with public recitations. The young royal member of the band was a special challenge : by adding Islamic legitimacy to his traditional appeal he might threaten the carefully contrived arrangements of al-Kanemi.
The Bornu leader soon thought better of his hostility. He began to repair the breach with gifts before Umar departed. He subsequently sent a noble woman from Bornu to become the pilgrim's wife. Mariatu caught up with the Umarian caravan in Sokoto and became the mother of Makki, Agibu, and two other sons 29.
Umar's sojourn in Sokoto was considerably less turbulent. It is also by far the most important and best documented part of the return. In addition to Rimah, we can rely on correspondence, one Sokoto chronicle and the internal narratives. The narratives acquire a certain autonomy from the master's recollections at this time because of the significant number of followers who enlisted here and accompanied Umar back to the west. None of these disciples wrote his own account, but they did communicate their impressions to the chroniclers introduced in Chapter 1 30. The Sokoto chronicle was actually written in Segu in the early 1860s at the behest of Amadu Sheku. The author, al-hajj Saidu, belonged to the court circles of Sokoto in the 1830s and 1840s. When his Tijani affiliation incurred the displeasure of the ruling authorities, he emigrated to the Umarian state. Amid a general description of the reigns of Muhammad Bello, Atiq, and Ali, he provides an inflated but invaluable view of Shaikh Umar 31.
Muhammad Bello was the unquestioned leader of the confederation when the pilgrim arrived at the end of 1831. About fifty years of age, he had been ruling from Sokoto officially for almost fifteen years and in defacto fashion for longer. He had survived the challenge of the dissatisfied Hausa of Abdul Salam, the criticisms and armies of al-Kanemi, and the rivalry of his uncle Abdullah. While Gwandu, now under Abdullah's son, still controlled the western and south-western dominions, it recognized the overall precedence of Sokoto. The most serious challenges now came from the northern frontier, from the Gobir, Katsina, Kebbi, and Tuareg aristocracies who had never accepted the new order of things. Their threat forced Bello to create ribaats or fortresses in the immediate environs of Sokoto itself 32. The ribaats provided training grounds for aspiring members of the Uthmanian dynasty and sustained an atmosphere of urgency among the faithful.
During a lull in fighting between 1832 and 1835, Bello received Ahmad al-Bekkay, second in command of the Kunta network of clerical and commercial specialists based in Arawan and Timbuktu 33. The Kunta had played a dominant role in the co-ordination of southern Saharan affairs for almost a century. They mediated between several confederations of Tuareg, Berabish, and Hassaniyya Moors, and between all of these and the sedentary inhabitants of the sahel. Al-Bekkay evoked the long-standing affection between the architects of this system, his father Sidi Muhammad and his grandfather Sidi al-Mukhtar, and the architects and administrators of the Sokoto regime. He took up the matter of pillages of caravans in Air, wrote a poem in praise of the jihaad, and responded to a request of Bello for a treatise on wealth and poverty 34. The preparation, visit and follow-up must have taken the better part of a year.
This visit corresponded to Umar's early residence in the Nigerian capital. Al-Bekkay later recalled to Umar how “you saw with your own eyes the treatment I received from Muhammad Bello” 35. The Maasina traditions collected by Hampate Bâ give an elaborate statement about the encounter and the hostility expressed by the two future adversaries 36. According to them, Umar received a very cool reception in Sokoto: a group of griots and artisans were designated to take him in, and he could not gain access to the palace. Meanwhile al-Bekkay walked a royal carpet. Bello greeted him outside the city walls, asked for his blessing on the city, and took him into his own apartments. The Kunta leader soon asked to see Umar, out of his determination to expose the weaknesses and stem the tide of enthusiasm for the Tijaniyya. At the encounter, narrated with an obvious bias for the Futanke pilgrim, Shaikh al-Bekkay did not hesitate to show a certain disdain for the colour of his interlocutor. He spoke with the condescension of a superior towards an intelligent inferior. Shocked by his manner, al-hajj Umar changed the tone of the exchange. He posed a first question, then a second, then a third. The answers of Shaikh al-Bekkay, because they lacked clarity or literary elegance, brought a smile to the lips of al-hajj Umar. The Kunta leader got angry. His aggressive nature overcame his reason and he forgot the obligations of courtesy …
Al-Bekkay then told a story suggesting that Umar would be a destructive leader who would manipulate the good name of religion. Al-Hajj Umar continued to ask questions and “the Kunta leader was not able to emerge from the affair with the sharpness and elegance which he and his following had counted on. To avoid a second encounter with the Futanke scholar, Shaikh al-Bekkay decided to cut short his stay in Sokoto” 37.
The evidence for some confrontation between Bekkay and Umar is strong. It is unlikely, however, that the Kunta cleric was upstaged by his adversary or that he abbreviated his visit. The contemporary documentation suggests a long stay and a very cordial relationship with Sokoto over the next few years. It also suggests that Umar made little impression at the Nigerian court before about 1835 38.
At that time the pilgrim's stock rose dramatically. One reason was his knowledge and ability to judge cases. Another was his contribution to the military fortunes of his hosts who struggled continually against resistance on the north-west frontier. Gobir, Katsina and Tuareg forces mobilized against Bello in 1835 and forced him to recruit a large army for the coming dry season. Umar accompanied the expedition, blessed it, assisted it in finding water at a critical moment by miraculous means, and was present at the resounding victory of Gawakuke in March 1836 39. His growing prestige enabled him to contract important marriages. Amadu Sheku and Makki, Umar's oldest sons, were probably born in 1836. This means that by 1835 Umar had married Aisha Jallo, the daughter of a local cleric and mother of Amadu, and Mariatu, the woman sent from Bornu in the spirit of reconciliation 40. At virtually the same time he must have received the hand of Bello's daughter Mariam, for she bore him two sons—Habib and Mokhtar—before her death in February 1838 41. These three marriages constituted a stunning recognition of Umar's achievements and an investment in his future. The gift of Mariam in particular spoke to a growing bond between the Commander of the Faithful and his guest. The bond also emerges in a letter of recommendation to Fuuta-Tooro which Bello wrote in anticipation of Umar's departure:
We have received [the visit of] al-hajj, the brother, the man of handsome appearance, the well-known 'Umar b. Sa'id…. It was a blessing and benediction for us to have seen and known him …. When he returned from his pilgrimage and had achieved his desires, then our hearts were fused like water…. For us his separation from us is like death… 42
Umar's growing prestige is also portrayed in terms of the extension of Tijaniyya doctrines and disciples. Umar completed his principal compositions, which are an index to his teaching and public acceptance, between 1835 and 1837. The most important, Suyuf al-Sa'id, was a defence of the order, condemnation of its critics, and foretaste of Rimah 43. On the basis of Tijaniyya beliefs, Umar criticized Bello's visits to Uthman's tomb. He nurtured cells of disciples in Sokoto, Gwandu, and probably other Nigerian centres. At least three of his new followers, including the chronicler Saidu, belonged to the ruling circle 44. His three wives had visions in which al-Tijani appeared to them, while Bello himself wrote favorable comments about the new order and recommended it to those who solicited his opinion 45.
Once again the Masinanke traditions go beyond the other versions. They assert that Bello became a Tijani and gave the succession to the Caliphate to Umar in a written document. Umar presented his claim just after Bello's death in October 1837, but Atiq—already named by the electoral council— asserted that the throne belonged to him as a son of Uthman. Umar, the more popular candidate, then left Nigeria to avoid the shedding of blood 46.
More reliable sources do not follow this lead. They suggest, first of all, that Umar had been preparing his departure for some time. Bello wrote his letter of recommendation some time before his death. Alfa Amadu, the Futanke's older brother, had come to bring the pilgrim home, but he received a wife in Sokoto and both men became the object of subsequent entreaties from home. The most insistent came some time in 1838 from relatives in Halwar and other Selobe villages: “Please hasten your arrival among us …. Your delay gives us pain. All the Futanke are waiting at a fever pitch…. Come and tell us what you saw during the pilgrimage so that we can understand through you…” 47 Second, Umar was not a candidate. According to the Sokoto chronicle, the pilgrim urged the army not to interfere in the succession, and he then assisted the new Commander of the Faithful in military campaigns during the dry season 48.
Consequently, it is reasonable to conclude that the Futanke scholar left Sokoto on his own terms, in his own time, and with good continuing relationships with the leaders of the confederation. The procession which set out early in 1839 was no longer the small band that came from Mecca. The caravan included Aisha and Mariatu and their servants, disciples from the Sokoto area, and a host of slaves received as gifts or shares of booty. Umar had written tracts and created Tijaniyya cells. He had acquired copies of the major treatises of Uthman and Abdullah on the Islamic state and the distinctions between belief and unbelief. He had gained important political and military experience, and undoubtedly begun to reflect on a jihaad and state of his own.
Umar spent most of 1839 in Hamdullahi. For this year in the Muslim Fulbe state which he would subsequently attack, the sources are disappointingly repetitive, fragmentary, and misleading. For the Umarian chroniclers, the stay was not particularly important. From the Hamdullahi perspective, it was critical and provided the explanation for the future conflict. The Maasina accounts stress a scene in which Seku Amadu asks his guest to bless his baby grandson, the future Amadu III. The child cries and resists the blessing, while Umar promises not to bring any harm upon him 49. The incident makes little sense in terms of age, since Amadu was six to ten years old in 1839, or political realities. The regime had not yet opted for filial as opposed to lateral succession, and Amadu II, son of Seku and father of Amadu III, had not even come to power. What probably happened was that Umar, like any distinguished visiting scholar, was asked to bless the younger members of the dynasty. Included in this group was Amadu III, whom the Futanke leader would later call “our grandchild, the son of our son, his grandfather our friend” 50.
When Umar arrived in the capital, the kingdom was relatively calm. Seku Amadu had firm control and had extended his hegemony to the east, north, and west 51. Most of the first generation of companions, including Alfa Nuh, were still participating in the council of forty. Some of the rigidity of the earlier years had probably been relaxed. Maasina exercised a loose hegemony over Timbuktu, where the Kunta held sway under al-Mukhtar b. Muhammad and his younger brother Bekkay. The Kunta profited from the order which Hamdullahi maintained around the Niger Bend and kept their religious ascendancy in the inland delta. Bekkay travelled in the area to collect gifts in exchange for his blessing or arbitration. Some of the most important contributions came from the royal family itself 52.
Umar was initially well received. As in Bornu and Sokoto, he began to teach a community of young scholars in the capital. By the end of his stay his fame had spread through the Caliphate. He also encountered opposition. One of Umar's pupils, Yirkoy Talfi, wrote an account of how the Futanke gained his following and how that following began to encounter opposition:
In the days of Seku Amadu, Shaikh Umar came to us in Hamdullahi on his return from the holy cities to Fuuta. We were with our shaikh, Ahmad b. Muhammad Gorel, and were reading with him. He [our teacher] followed Shaikh Umar closely, he would not leave him night or day. He then took the wird [initiation] from him and then we took it. When Shaikh Umar continued his journey from us to Fuuta, we composed a now famous 'ajami [non-Arabic, here meaning Fulfulde] poem in the hazj meter in which I praised Shaikh al-Tijani and sought his blessing. When some of the pupils heard it they became very envious of us and talked about us to Seku Amadu, spreading false and malicious reports. Then Seku Amadu prevented us from practising the wird The author goes on to suggest the ultimate source of opposition to the controversial Tijaniyya affiliation: “Then he [Seku Amadu] sent to us pupils of al-Bekkay (as well as Sidi al-Mukhtar) with poems which satirized and accused us of infidelity [tafkiir], to the point of calling us atheists [zandaq]” 53. Bâ and Daget indicate the content of some of this material. In one poem addressed to Umar, the Kunta cleric concluded by saying: “You are the most learned of the sons of slaves that I have ever met.” In another he used highly camouflaged language to equate Umar with Satan 54. Al-Bekkay, alert to the threat posed to Kunta religious and commercial ascendancy by the growing popularity of the Tijaniyya, could not accept a fifth column in his Maasina fiefdom. He was particularly incensed that some former pupils of the Kunta 55 had adopted the new affiliation. Even after discounting for the inflation of the Masinanke traditions, it is obvious that Qadiriyya and Tijaniyya leaders were playing for high states and that the coalition of Kunta and Hamdullahi court made life difficult for the Masinanke Tijanis in the 1840s 56.
Some recent oral tradition from Maasina captures a different dimension of the same period. Three informants state that Umar was writing and reciting from a document, either the beginning of Rimah or some chants in honour of the Prophet, during the stay in Hamdullahi. The local Muslims had not heard the recitations before and wished to copy them down. When Umar refused, the Masinanke resorted to subterfuge, slipping the manuscript away at night to make their own version. Umar discovered the trick, became very angry, and—in one account—caused the copyist to lose his mind 57. Such a picture is not inconsistent with the intensity, exclusiveness and ambition which the Futanke often demonstrated during his career.
The rest of Umar's movement to the west is generally portrayed as a prelude to his residence in Fuuta-Jalon. The theme of hostility, often communicated in the form of an ambush and attempted assassination, dominates the internal narratives. The villain is usually the Hamdullahi court, which writes to chiefs along the route to eliminate its rival. This is probably another instance of feedback from the later conflict. A more likely instigator, with deeper motivation and better contacts along the Middle Niger, was Bekkay.
The hostile encounter which is most frequently reported in internal and external sources occurred in Segu, the capital of a powerful Bambara state and the epitome of “paganism” for many militant Muslims. The Fama or king none the less sustained a relationship with the Kunta and had Muslim communities among his subjects 58. Umar was staying with one of these communities, the Somono boatmen, when the ruler threw him in jail. He was released a few months later and resumed his south-westerly march 59. This incident, like many others over the previous decade, fed his reflections about ethnic and religious identity.
On the eve of his return to Fuuta-Jalon, Umar could justifiably claim to have made a strong impression upon the worlds of the Central and Western Sudan. He had stood firm against the threats of Segu. As pilgrim and deputy of a new order, he had won disciples at each step of the way. He had received the apology of al-Kanemi. He could claim a close relationship and even a certain ascendancy over the leaders of the outstanding Muslim regime of the savannah. To Seku Amadu's prophecy and caliphate, Umar could counter with his own “khalifate” obtained at first hand from the well-springs of Islam. To the Kunta tradition of expertise in jurisprudence and Sufism, he posed the most fundamental challenge of all. Without sacrificing mastery of the law or knowledge of Sufi practices, he had become the leader of a way which did not go through the normal chains of authority, which did not pass through the great renewer of the late eighteenth century, al-Mukhtar al-Kunti 60.
In March of 1840, probably just after leaving the Segu prison, Umar wrote to the ruling council of Fuuta-Jalon to announce his return. He minced no words about his authority: God had made him a representative of the Prophet and khalifa of the Tijaniyya order. Umar Tal was making his presence felt in the Dar al-Islam of West Africa 61.
In late 1840 Umar moved up the Niger to the eastern edge of Fuuta-Jalon. He wrote to Yaya, the reigning Almamy of the Soriya house, but received no response. After the rainy season the Alfaya Bakar took power, welcomed the pilgrim and installed him in a small hamlet called Jegunko. The Shaikh had probably planned on settling in Fuuta for some time 62. He had recent contacts there and could be certain of being the leading Tijaniyya figure. He could take advantage of the physical security, material prosperity, and deep divisions of the kingdom. By the same token he could avoid for the moment the obvious disadvantages of Fuuta-Tooro: the disdain of the more prestigious political and religious elite, the raids of the Moors, the proximity of the French, and the ascendancy of the Qadiriyya 63.
Shaikh Umar benefited greatly from the umbrella of central authority which the Alfaya extended over his entourage. Almamy Bakar, for his part, seized the opportunity to strengthen the eastern flank of Fuuta. Jegunko was located in the sparsely populated province of Kolen with a mixed Fulbe and Mandinka constituency, and it fell directly under Timbo's control. The Almamy was also motivated by Islamic piety. He encouraged his subjects to study there. He even spent the fast and concluding feast of Ramadan there in 1841. The Dingiray chronicler, the only source to give significant glimpses of the Jegunko period, puts the relationship between the two men in this way:
Almamy Bakar ordered the Fula [Fulbe] to reside with al-hajji [Umar], and his heart was pleased with him. He did not prevent the Fula from following al-hajji, who had brought religion, for Almamy Bakar loved religion. It was on account of religion, the true religion of Allah, that Almamy Bakar followed … him 64.
Given this royal encouragement, it is likely that Alfaya supporters gravitated to Umar's side after the Almamy's deposition in 1843 and especially after his death in 1845. Baker may indeed have been the first member of the Timbo lineage to accept Tijaniyya allegiance and launch the process which culminated in the adoption of the order by the aristocracy in the late nineteenth century 65.
Between 1841 and 1845 Umar concentrated his energies on writing, teaching, and forming the small community of disciples in Jegunko. In 1844 he wrote a tract responding to five questions about the Tijaniyya and the status of dhimmis, non-believers who co-existed with the Muslim community. In this treatise he sharply criticized the laxity of ostensibly Muslim rulers who allowed Muslims to be enslaved and sold to Europeans 66. He completed his most important manuscript in 1845, under the title of ar-Rimah, “the lances”. In it he dealt with the order and his own position as the khaliifa for the savannah region. Rimah has since become the most fundamental work in Tijaniyya libraries in West Africa 67. Umar used his writing as the basis for his teaching. The preoccupation with learning and the intimacy of the community emerge from a passage in the Dingiray chronicle:
[On one occasion] the village of Jegunko burned and three rooms full of books were destroyed. While this was going on Umar grieved and wanted to die in the fire himself. He did not care about the property that was being burned, it was only the manuscripts that mattered. He stayed inside his room and refused to come out.
The community of followers [jamaa] came and urged him to leave, but he refused, saying: “Why should I? All my books are burned.” They exhorted him but he still refused.
As the followers watched the fire raging, one of Umar's pupils, Amadu Yero, entered the room, grabbed his master and carried him out on his back. The pupil said:
— “Did you not write the books? Then if God wills you will write more”
— “You are right, but one cannot find that many books here.”
Umar entrusted himself to God. He sent his younger brother's son [sic] to Timbuktu, with a considerable amount of money and paper, to have new manuscripts made 68.
The Timbuktu episode is unlikely, but the portrayal of close relationships between master and disciples accords with the view from other sources.
Within Jegunko there were several identifiable constituencies. The most obvious and influential consisted of the northern Nigerians who had joined the movement in the 1830s. Some came from Bornu and the circle of al-Kanemi, but the vast majority hailed from the Sokoto area. They included slaves, commoners, a few noblemen, and the wives and concubines of the Shaikh himself. These women were the most important members of the new community, for they would produce a large proportion of Umar's approximately 100 children and thereby help to transform a modest lineage into a vast and visible clan. The most prestigious children were precisely the sons of the Bornu and Sokoto women 69. Disciples from Fuuta-Jalon formed by far the largest strand in the Jegunko community. While the meagre sources do not permit much analysis, they do indicate the presence of some members of the Bari lineage of the inaugural capital of Fugumba, some Bari from the reigning capital at Timbo, probably from the Alfaya house, and some important figures from Labe province. The Dingiray chronicler claims followers from all the provinces 70. One can also identify a small but important cluster of disciples from Fuuta-Tooro, some Mandinka organized around Alfa Mamudu Kaba of Kankan 71, and a sizeable group of Yoruba settlers from Freetown.
The Freetown contingent suggests the kind of motivations which propelled people to go to Jegunko. The Aku or Yoruba Islamic community took shape in the 1820s, as the British squadron liberated significant numbers of Muslim Nigerians who had been enslaved in the turmoil created by the decline of Oyo and the expansion of the Uthmanian jihaad to the south. The principal residencies in Freetown were Fula Town and Fourah Bay, and the Aku soon organized according to the local ethnic pattern. They chose an “Alimami” as their religious and political leader, in imitation of the Almamate, and began sending promising students to the schools of Fuuta-Jalon. Anglican missionaries grew alarmed at the growth of Muslim influence in the 1830s. They prevailed upon a governor to destroy the mosques of Fula Town and Fourah Bay in 1840 and almost secured the exile of Muslims from Freetown. A few years later another governor called these Aku “blisters on the face of our society” 72. In these adverse circumstances, the Yoruba felt a particular need for external support and legitimation. Upon hearing of Umar's return from pilgrimage, they sent a large delegation to Jegunko. According to Freetown oral tradition of the early twentieth century, It was during . . .  that the first pilgrimage to Alhaji Omar of Toro fame was undertaken . . . in order to further their [the Akus'] educational attainments and to make a study of the Islamic tenets as practiced in Maasina [sic] in Fuuta, the seat of this learned shaikh and profound teacher. The pilgrims remained at Maasina [sic] for several months. Some even stayed three years studying the Holy Koran …, theology and several logical poems and treatises in Arabic. Above all on their return they brought back with them the Tijani Brotherhood 73.
The Aku maintained their contacts and orientation towards the Umarian movement, Fuuta-Jalon and the Tijaniyya for the rest of the century 74.
The Aku sought out Umar as the rising star of Islamic scholarship and authority within the Fuuta-Jalon firmament. After varying periods of residence, they returned home to use their new credentials, summed up in the phrase “Tijani Brotherhood”. They made no reference to jihaad nor do they appear in any of the internal accounts of the jihaad 75. In this the Aku disciples are typical of the Jegunko phase in which Umar consolidated his reputation as a scholar and teacher.
Some French sources suggest that Jegunko was a large, thriving and stratified town busy with the accumulation of slaves and arms. The more trustworthy internal narratives portray a small group of several hundred disciples, living in relative isolation, and raising most of their own crops and cattle 76. Slaves were certainly present, but they were not principally engaged in agricultural production and some of them had become trusted servants of Umar. Students came and went, as well as members of the Timbo court. Goods such as paper for writing manuscripts were acquired through the commercial system of Fuuta-Jalon.
On at least one occasion Umar left Jegunko to intervene in national politics. The setting was the intense competition between Alfaya and Soriya, which far exceeded rivalries in Sokoto and Hamdullahi. The situation was aggravated in the early 1840s by swarms of locusts which attacked crops for several years in a row 77. Their depredations limited the country's ability to purchase goods and slaves and heightened the pressure on Timbo to renew the work force by slave raids. The Alfaya leader Bakar, who held the Almamyship at the time, was not disposed to encourage expeditions. His refusal led to his downfall, which was recorded by W. C. Thomson, an Anglican missionary visiting Timbo in 1843:
This peaceful and humane spirit [of Almamy Bakar], I regret to say, has rendered him anything but popular with the chiefs, so much so indeed that . . . they meditate a revolution. They wish for a king who, by restoring the former order of things, will gratify their insatiable cupidity which, were it even possible, Babakar [Bakar] has no means of doing, except by the distribution of his own property among them; and, as they are not ashamed to tell me, were he even to do so, they would discard him for another whose “hand was full,” or, as they jestingly say, “when the cow is dry, she must be turned out to the bush” 78.
A younger, more vigorous Soriya rival named Umar was waiting in the wings with a “full hand”. He took power in 1843 and held it for most of the next fifteen years. Almamy Umar duly rewarded his followers with expeditions and confiscations. In the process he intensified the hostility of the two houses and the materialistic bent of the aristocracy. The more devout Fulbe scholars, who remained loyal to the social charter of the revolution and despised the corruption and violence, brought moral pressure to bear on the political elite. In a “memorandum of reconciliation” addressed to the Alfaya and Soriya, Cerno Sadu Ibrahim of Labe province declared:
In our days divisions have achieved their purposes, the armies of ignorance have raised their flag. Honesty has disappeared, government and religion have become corrupt. The governors and their assistants are filled with fear, the judges and scholars have become confused …. Each one is occupied with looking after himself …. [This is the result] of the divisions among us into two factions. It is impossible to reform things before we achieve a reconciliation. For this reason we urge you to make contact with each other and be reconciled. Only in so doing can we be rescued, can we succeed and return to goodness. You are the descendants of one man. There is no question but that you are both respected. God had generously given you the succession in Fuuta. Show your gratitude by using it responsibly, or else you will lose it 79.
Shaikh Umar, as a respected scholar with experience in the Bornu-Sokoto quarrel, supported Cerno Sadu's position. He journeyed to Timbo, probably in 1844, and sought to bring the two sides together. From the fragmentary sources available, it would appear that he got the rival Almamies to listen and perhaps to agree to a truce, but that they soon fell to fighting again. Part of the problem was Umar's identification with the Alfaya Soriya house, but the principal stumbling block was the deep-seated hostility between the factions 80.
What finally forced the two houses to close ranks was the Hubbu revolt in which slaves, Jalonke farmers, Pulli and dissatisfied Fulbe struck out at the privilege of the ruling class. Modi Mamadu Juhe So, a cleric who had studied with Sidiyya al-Kabir in southern Mauritania, returned to Fuuta in the 1840s, gradually became a spokesman for the lower classes, and came into open conflict with the Timbo regime in the 1850s. The Hubbu, “those who love God”, put the ruling classes on the defensive for many years. They were eventually driven to the south-eastern frontier of the state where they were finally destroyed by Samori in 1884 81.
The significance of Umar's intervention does not lie in any short-term arrangement. It is rather that Umar gained new prestige by demonstrating his integrity and political acumen in the face of the corruption and greed of the political elite. He obtained favour for the Tijaniyya, a certain moral ascendancy over his hosts, and a potential recruiting arena for the jihaad. Moreover, by trying to conciliate the rivals and restore cohesion to the aristocracy, he took a position in support of the existing social order which would immeasurably facilitate his recruitment. In this posture he stood at the opposite extreme from the Hubbu.
In 1846 Umar left his following in Jegunko and embarked on a long voyage through Senegambia 82. It was a fitting moment. He had completed his major writing project. He had demonstrated his capacity to intervene in political affairs. He was restless after five years in one place. It had been more than twenty years since he had visited his homeland, and Umar wanted to test the reactions of his compatriots to his past and future career. With the death of Bakar he had lost his main patron in Fuuta-Jalon. Almamy Umar saw him as an Alfaya protégé who interfered in other people's affairs. For all of these reasons, and above all to determine responses to a possible jihaad under his leadership, Shaikh Umar set out with a handful of disciples for the north-west.
The first stop was Tuba, headquarters for a vast network of scholars called the Jakhanke. They were known for their rejection of political involvement and of the jihaad as a means of spreading Islam 83. The centre was founded in the early nineteenth century by Karamoko Ba, a famous teacher and miracle worker, and was considered the premier school of learning and Sufi piety in Fuuta-Jalon. Tassilima, the founder's son, presided over its fortunes at mid-century. For Umar the stakes were considerable. He was already leader of a multi-ethnic community. If he could acquire the allegiance or at least the blessing of the Mandinka-speaking Jakhanke, he would greatly enhance his own credentials and transcend the political and cultural divisions of the day. While the internal narratives barely mention the stop in Tuba, Jakhanke traditions describe at some length the confrontation of Umar and Tassilima. The Shaikh first paid his respects at the tomb of the founder. Then, after contests of miracle prowess, Umar posed the crucial question:
He invited him to join the war for religion. Tassilima refused, saying: “I am Jakhanke. A Jakhanke is not a warrior but a pacifist. A Jakhanke seeks by contrast to dominate himself, to struggle against temptation in order to stay pure and close to the Creator.” 84
The refusal should be understood in several ways.
The pilgrim scholar enjoyed greater success in Senegambia. He attracted Fulbe, Mandinka, and Wolof followers along the way despite opposition from some of the ruling classes 85. In most instances he left these disciples behind as embryonic Tijani communities on the pattern followed when he returned from Mecca. Many local Senegambian traditions cite this portion of the journey and bring Umar into their territory to provide added legitimacy to a cause 86.
Umar was bound for Fuuta-Tooro, where he had the greatest opportunity of testing the potential for jihaad among compatriots who had long been disillusioned with their Islamic regime. Two fluctuating coalitions from central Fuuta continued to dominate the region without providing any significant security from external threats. Moorish bands raided in the valley with impunity. Sidiyya al-Kabir, a Moor who had studied at the feet of Sidi al-Mukhtar al-Kunti, had gained a certain religious hegemony in the area. He was the teacher of Mamadu Juhe of Fuuta-Jalon and many other aspiring Muslims. In Fuuta-Tooro he was allied with the coalition dominated by the Wan of Mbumba. Some Futanke belonged to Tijaniyya cells, but they were few in number. The French, for their part, had become more aggressive in the 1840s. In addition to gunboats they now possessed a small cavalry which, on occasion, could give hot pursuit. As always their pressure was felt most in the western provinces, where the boats could navigate throughout the year. None of these frustrations was balanced by prosperity or material success. The potential for recruiting for a jihaad was great 87.
From the fragmentary sources available 88, it appears that Umar spent over half a year in the middle valley. He stayed several months in his home town of Halwar. There he followed the pattern for which he had become known in Jegunko: a long period of meditation in isolation, followed by preaching and teaching. He then dispatched letters and an envoy to the leaders of the central and eastern zones, and followed up with an extended meeting with them in Eastern Fuuta. His message was twofold: accept the Tijaniyya and enlist in the coming jihaad. His listeners could respond by joining the procession or waiting in Fuuta until they received further instructions.
Umar succeeded rather well in his effort. He helped depose the reigning Almamy 89. He obtained several hundred recruits specifically committed to the jihaad. Some came from the first families of Fuuta—generally younger, less established men, who were less likely to inherit property and office 90. He laid the basis for further recruitment through the strengthened Tijaniyya network.
Reinforced by the new enlistment, Umar travelled through the principal Muslim centres of eastern Senegambia: the Soninke riverine villages in Gajaga, the Fulbe regime of Bundu and the Islamic centre of Gunjuru in Khasso. In Bundu Umar established contact with the Sisibe in their strategic location between the Upper Senegal and the Middle Gambia valleys. In Gunjuru Umar dealt with Soninke and Jakhanke lineages engaged in scholarship and in organizing caravans which linked the Sahel to Fuuta-Jalon and the Middle Niger to the coast 91.
On two occasions the Shaikh apparently met with French officials and members of the trading system which operated out of St Louis: in late 1846 near Podor and Halwar, and in the summer of 1847 at Bakel 92. Both times the traveller announced his intentions to establish a political kingdom in which peace, security, and commerce would reign. Each time the officials and merchants accepted his announcement and showered their interlocutor with gifts. Some of the Senegalese traders of St Louis even joined the procession. Umar capped his exchange at Bakel with a letter to the French Governor:
I have affection and trust in you and will always keep the bond which exists between us. I will take care of your interests. If God wills, you will know upon my return [to Senegambia] that I am a man who can be trusted. You will find that those who follow Islam are trustworthy 93.
These exchanges helped form Umar's expectations that the Europeans would play a supportive, logistical role in a Muslim jihaad.
The procession which field up the foothills of Fuuta-Jalon in the rainy season of 1847 was larger and more militant than the Jegunko community. It consisted primarily of young men, mostly Fulbe from Fuuta-Tooro. Although Umar could still justifiably claim to appeal to a wide spectrum of Muslims, the Jakhanke refusal had increased his dependence on a specifically Futanke constituency who were ready to link the jihadic tradition with Tijaniyya affiliation. The large entourage aroused the suspicion of the Shaikh's nemesis, Almamy Umar. The Soriya ruler had just returned to power after a brief reign by Bakar's son Ibrahima. The change in regime had characteristically been costly: the destruction of much of Timbo and nearby towns, the forced exile of many Alfaya, and serious loss of life and wealth 94. Almamy Umar consequently bristled at the approach of a large contingent, partially armed and known to have Alfaya sympathies. He tried to block the procession as it moved to Jegunko until some of his counsellors persuaded him to relent. Shaikh Umar viewed the near-confrontation as an encounter of temporal and religious authority. In the introduction to a long metrical commentary completed after his trip, he said:
Those who seek after material possessions and power thought that I was like them . . . [They failed to realize that] I am one of the faithful of the Prophet, one of the inheritors of all the Prophets . . . He [Almamy Umar] in his fantasies about me, sent to the people of Fuuta-Jalon to block me and prevent me from returning home 95.
About a year after his return to Fuuta-Jalon Umar took another decisive step in the direction of jihaad. He moved his community into “pagan” territory to the east. He chose Tamba, the Mandinka kingdom founded by the Sakho lineage in the early nineteenth century and set between the Bafing and Tinkisso Rivers 96. The limited documentation on the state suggests a compact and centralized court, well organized for trade, raids against larger neighbours, and defence of its borders. The plain along the Bafing, in the central and northern parts of the kingdom, was a densely populated agricultural zone. The southern hills close to the Tinkisso were virtually deserted, and subject to frequent raids from the south. Tamba cut into the traditional spheres of domination of Fuuta-Jalon, Karta in the north and Segu in the east.
The Almamate was especially hurt: the Mandinka provinces which had formerly paid tribute were shorn off, the gold trade with Bure and the cloth trade with Kankan were short-circuited. A French report in 1837 indicated that most of the caravans bound for Senegal and Gambia passed by Tamba 97. On several occasions Fuuta had tried to eliminate its rival, but each time its army was humiliated. By the late 1840s the kingdom had probably begun to decline, but it still deserved its reputation as a powerful and autocratic state 98.
The reason often given for the move is the growing hostility of Almamy Umar, and the basis is the passage in Umar's commentary given above. Such an interpretation, based on one internal source, allows Umarians and modern scholars alike to cast this shift as a hijra in the Muhammadan and Uthmanian patterns. In fact, the decision to move was almost certainly not viewed as a hijra at the time, not even by Umar's closest associates 99. True, Almamy Umar had never been very friendly. Now he was particularly wary of the increasing numbers and militancy of the Umarians. The Shaikh preferred to put some distance between himself and the unfriendly Soriya house.
Map 3.1 Fuuta-Jalon and Tamba.
Sources: Person in Ajayi and Crowder, eds. The History of West Africa Vol. 2
But the move also coincided perfectly with Timbo's long-frustrated desired to expand to the east. Umar and his constituency, still predominantly from Fuuta-Jalon, might open up commercial links to Bure and Kankan and eventually undermine the power of Tamba. They would still depend on Fuuta-Jalon for trade to the south-west, which followed a route through Timbo to Freetown. This perspective of co-operation between the two Umars comes out in testimony collected by the French from the Maasina community in 1897: “The chief of Timbo, Umar Bari, … who detested the king of Tamba, encouraged al-hajj Umar in his projects of liberation and agreed with him that, if he was victorious, he would become master of all the land of Tamba.” 100 The new residence also corresponded to the internal dynamic of the Umarian movement by creating propitious conditions for jihaad: the growing and zealous community could not fail to threaten its “pagan” hosts and provoke an attack. That would provide the basis for declaring a holy war.
Umar had to insert his community carefully into a kingdom like Tamba. He sent small groups of scouts to locate an area that was unoccupied but sufficiently fertile to support settlement. They found a place called Dingiray close to the Tinkisso River. Umar then requested the permission of King Yimba to settle. In one griot account, the exchange between chief and cleric went as follows:
Umar asked to settle with 32 disciples, Alfa Amadu [his older brother] and himself.
The king asked: “What's your trade?”
Umar replied: “I farm and teach my talibes. They beg for alms and we live on that.”
The king said: “You pray, I do not. Your talibes ask for alms, I do not. We are different, and consequently I see no problems.”
The king consulted his court and the court agreed, since the two would not be in competition 101.
The tradition simplifies and stylizes what happened, but it suggests two important dimensions of strategy: that the Shaikh initially sent only a small portion of his community to Dingiray, and that he presented himself in the vocation of simple cleric, a role familiar and acceptable to courts and kings. Yimba also planned to use the new colony for his own purposes. He would receive an annual tribute, obtain a buffer against attacks from the south, and develop production and commerce along the Tinkisso 102.
By the end of 1849 Umar had moved most of his entourage to Dingiray. The character of the settlement changed rapidly over the next three years. From a small hamlet grew a town with thick walls, turrets, an interior citadel, and several thousand inhabitants. Commercial relations developed with Timbo and, via Timbo and the Rokel River, with Freetown. This occurred partly through the agency of the Aku students, most of whom had left the Umarian community and returned home. The Timbo-Rokel route brought in significant quantities of small arms and remained the dominant outlet to the Upper Guinea coast for the rest of the century 103. Umar also organized the blacksmiths to repair broken guns, divided his men into Fuuta-Jalon and Fuuta-Tooro units, and expanded the units with the new recruits 104. Although he paid the required tribute to Yimba in 1850 and 1851, the Shaikh was clearly heading for confrontation. The same griot who emphasized the initial compatibility registers the sense of impending conflict:
Later the king said:
“I have no confidence in him. I see three things: his head is very wide and he can hear things that we cannot; his shoulders are very wide, and there is something in his chest that we do not have; he is taller than we are. I know that if you fear someone, he will have the last word.”
… A Tamba hunter was passing by Dingiray and noticed the tata [fortification] under construction by the 34 people. He saw that Umar was no simple marabout [cleric]. The hunter said to the king:
“You were right. His chest and head are different and he is tall. His tata is larger than yours, by far. They are doing more than just protecting themselves 105.
In 1852 the latent conflict between Tamba and the Umarians came out into the open. Yimba, concerned about the growing size and strength of his “guests”, sent a delegation to demand the tribute, destroy the fortress and seize the firearms. Umar could not accept these demands, but he was not yet ready to break relations and risk war. The negotiations which ensued gave him time to make his final preparations. The discussions are recounted in almost all of the internal chronicles and depict the nature of the threat which Dingiray posed to the monarchy and social structure of Tamba. The standard version goes as follows:
The messengers of Yimba stayed a while [in Dingiray] before returning. One of them was a griot named Jeli Musa. They expressed the king's concern and Shaikh Umar received them politely. When the messengers were preparing to return, Jeli Musa came to Umar, told him his name and swore allegiance to him. Umar responded: “Jeli Musa, it is necessary for us all that you go back with the messengers until you come to a deserted area, and then return to us [so that Dingiray would not appear to have forced the conversion].”
Jeli Musa agreed and, [at the time of separation from the messengers], he said to them: “I have decided to return to al-hajj Umar and become a Muslim.” Then he gave them the horse, gun and sword he had been using and a message for the king: “I have chosen the side of al-hajj Umar instead of yours. I have become a Muslim and joined the religion of God.” He abandoned pagan religion and returned to al-hajj Umar. The messengers went to the king and told him everything that happened, including how Jeli Musa had become a Muslim. From that time on the king hated [Umar] intensely.
Religious conversion had become a question of political allegiance, and the conversion of a trusted griot and diplomat from the Tamba inner circle threatened the hierarchy of the state and society. This threat, coupled with the bristling fortress and lapse of tribute, could not be tolerated by Yimba. The account continues:
Shaikh Umar gathered all the talibes and consulted them about the matter of whether to send Jeli Musa back. The opinions varied. Some said: “We must send him back. We dare not fight Yimba with our small numbers and limited provisions.” Others said: “We cannot send a Muslim back to pagans, even if our lives, wealth and defence depend upon it.” Then Umar said to the messenger: “You have heard the words of the assembly. Tell the king that we do not have the right to return Jeli Musa.” 106
This passage points to a division within the Umarian ranks, between the advocates of caution and those of resistance. This split correlates with the main geographical distinction among the talibes 107. Those who came from Fuuta-Tooro and had enlisted during the 1846-7 mission or thereafter were ready for war; they had always anticipated waging the jihaad. Those from Fuuta-Jalon, some of whom had joined in the Jegunko period, were hesitant. Some did not welcome the transition to war; they cherished the images of the earlier phase. Others simply thought that it was too early to declare jihaad; they had been steeped in the caution bred by failed campaigns in earlier decades 108.
In September 1852 Yimba sent a detachment to capture Dingiray. So confident of victory was he that he allowed children to accompany the troops to bring the booty back. Umar waited until his enemies came inside the walls of the town. Then, from a base in the citadel, he announced that he had received divine authorization to wage the jihaad 109 and ordered his men to fire, pursue, and exterminate the Mandinka forces. The cohesion and intense energy of the Umarians threw the Tambans into a panic. Most were killed or captured 110. Yimba recovered from this stupefaction in time to counter with a larger army, but he also failed and fled back to his fortress. The jihaad was under way.
The Umarians now took the offensive against the town of Tamba. Given the strength of the fortification and the absence of cannon, the jihadists had no choice but to lay a siege which endured from November to March of 1853 and required building temporary defences outside the walls. The early months were discouraging. Umar stayed behind in Dingiray and showed great hesitation about prosecuting the jihaad. Almost no new recruits arrived. When Yimba received reinforcements and Umarian powder ran low, the siege almost collapsed 111. At this point Umar rushed new supplies of powder to the front and took personal charge of operations. He persuaded the Fuuta-Tooro units to attack with flaming arrows and guns. In the ensuing turmoil the jihadists slipped through a breach in the walls, took the town, and confined Yimba to the citadel. When the Mandinka king promised to convert and asked for time to organize his surrender, the Shaikh granted his request. He left a small contingent behind and returned to Dingiray.
The victory at Tamba amounted to a stunning success for the new movement. The Umarians acquired large stocks of gold and food from the king's citadel. The heretofore hesitant Almamy of Fuuta-Jalon now sent reinforcements, wives, and gifts 112, while young men eager for the fray arrived from every quarter. For the Fulbe frustrated by the diminution of slave-raiding, the new jihaad was the answer to a prayer. The Segu talibes interviewed by Mage remembered a qualitative change in Umarian fortunes with the victory: “[Umar's] army grew immediately by colossal proportions, because the news of this success spread terror everywhere, and every adventurous man was ready to put himself under the orders of such a leader 113. By April of 1853 the French post at Bakel had wind of Umar's achievement and was beginning to calculate future policy in terms of his hegemony. A letter from the commander to the Governor indicated that Umar
had brought about an important capture at Tamba. This conquest has brought him immense renown and his name is on the lips of everyone in the Upper Senegal. His envoys are everywhere, preaching his cause. A considerable mass of people, with their personal effects and arms, are heading for Tamba. Each village is furnishing a contingent… Everywhere he is regarded as a Muslim Messiah, and he will probably be the master of the banks of the Senegal within two years 114.
The jihadists did not rest on their newly won laurels. After the rainy season they headed to the eastern part of the old Tamba kingdom in a campaign that would have just as great an impact on their future as the highly publicized victory of March. Yimba had escaped from his confinement, but he was subsequently assassinated by an erstwhile vassal on the border between Tamba and Bure. Umar demanded the personal property which Yimba had taken with him. When his demand was refused he led his legions to the east where, after one week of heavy fighting, his guns prevailed against the swords and arrows of the Mandinka army. With this victory at Gufde the Umarians took charge of Bure and its precious gold, an achievement which had eluded Fuuta-Jalon for more than a century 115.
By the end of 1853 the jihadists had consolidated their control over the Bafing and Tinkisso valleys. They reinforced the fortifications of Dingiray and made it their capital. With about 2,000 inhabitants and a number of satellite villages in the surrounding hills, the town was well placed to dominate the east-west trade routes and the southern reaches of old Tamba. It remained the main capital of the Umarian dominions until the capture of Nioro in 1855, and one of the main centres until the French conquest. As the first bastion of the jihaad and residence of the burgeoning Tal family, Dingiray occupied a special place in Futanke affections 116.
Map 3.2 Tamba in the Late Nineteenth Century adapted from: P. Marty, L'Islam en Guinée, Annexe XXXI
In pious circles the town of Tamba now went by the name of Dabatu, “the excellent”, a synonym for Medina and a symbol of Umar's effort to recreate the Muhammadan formula in the new jihaad 117. With about 1,000 inhabitants, Tamba dominated the north and the densely populated Bafing plain, where most of the crops were produced. The town walls were not restored, but the Tal princes were able to live in Yimba's old palace, which remained intact. From here they could oversee the trading caravans and the northern frontier and collect taxes on crops and livestock.
A fuller description of the province of Tamba in the late nineteenth century will require intensive field research to fill in the gaps in the sparse archival documentation. Those archives suggest a population of 20,000 to 25,000 people. About half were probably Fulbe, originally from Fuuta-Tooro, Bundu, and particularly Fuuta-Jalon, whose eastern zone supplied many settlers for the Bafing valley. The other half was made up of Jalonke Mandinka, the former subjects of Yimba, together with new slaves brought in from outside. The settlers often took Jalonke wives and concubines; their children became members of the dominant class. The Fulbe were most numerous in the two main towns and key forts. They had larger herds and collections of slaves, and they filled most of the positions in the government. The Tal were particularly conspicuous in the administration. The Jalonke dominated the agricultural sector. They usually lived under the jurisdiction of their own chiefs in villages in the Bafing valley. Both groups spoke Fulfulde and Mandinka, and there is no indication of any revolt against Umarian domination. In fact, Tamba was probably the most successful of the jihadic dominions from the perspective of peace and prosperity. Not the least of the reasons were small size and proximity to Fuuta-Jalon.
The Umarians were not so successful further afield. They maintained their hegemony over Bure through the indigenous chiefs for a few years. After 1861 the gold producing region was transferred to Segu, while in the 1870s it came under the control of Samori Ture . Samori reduced Dingiray's territory, drew away some of the trade, and weakened the old ties with Fuuta-Jalon. Most of this decline occurred under Agibu, the son of Umar who commanded the province after 1878. Agibu joined forces with the French in the 1890s and received the chieftaincy of Bandiagara. He took a large entourage with him while other Umarians, rejecting his course, joined Amadu Sheku's futile resistance. The net result was a sharp reduction, in the Fulbe population and a partial return to the Mandinka custom of an earlier day 118.
Students of the Umarian movement have often been puzzled by the contrast between the small and studious community of Jegunko and the expanding militant force of Dingiray 119. If the Jegunko period is put in the context of the return from the pilgrimage, the contradictions are much less formidable. Umar's Tijaniyya appointment melded with the growing tradition of jihaad and Islamic state in West Africa. The Sokoto period, with its combination of scholarly writing, military experience, and political observation, was particularly formative. The Jegunko phase allowed Umar to complete his main writing tasks, train an inner circle of followers, and reestablish his bearings in the familiar surroundings of Fuuta-Jalon. By the middle of the 1840s he took the critical ideological step of linking Tijaniyya and jihaad. He moved to actual jihaad in three fundamental stages:
The internal chronicles are not unanimous about a natural progression from teaching to fighting. The Dingiray chronicle, composed by someone who belonged to the earlier community, portrays a leader who is often lost in meditation, who hesitates in battle, who even cried at one point after the seizure of Bure. When his followers asked him to explain the tears, he responded that he had been thinking about how he had made war against Tamba and won, and then made war against Gufde and won, whereupon everyone had sworn allegiance to him, and how he fears that now that this world had provided him satisfaction, God might not grant him a place in the other world 120.
This vignette should not be dismissed as just the product of the chronicler's nostalgia for an earlier, more intimate time. Umar was aware of the dangers of expanding the size of his community and directly entering the sphere of military and political action. His calling, his ambition, and his sense of the growing Dar al-Islam of the Western Sudan brought him, at some cost, to jihaad.
His jihaad contrasted sharply with the model exemplified in Gobir, codified in the Sokoto writings and praised in Rimah.
Uthman could claim that he tried repeatedly to influence the sultan, that the ruler's attacks had ended all ambiguity about the identity of the true Islamic community, and that he was justified in the hijra and jihaad. Umar could not make, and did not need to make the same claims. He had settled in a Muslim state which was the product of an earlier revolution. He had recruited his entourage there and in Fuuta-Tooro, product of another revolution. He could not justify a jihaad against either Almamate, at least not without starting a civil war or another Hubbu revolt. But if he turned the cannon of jihaad to the exterior, he immediately took advantage of internal frustrations and traditional enmity against Tamba and he made it extremely difficult for an Almamy to oppose him. At the same time he dispensed with any ambiguity about the religious status of his adversary and thus with the applicability of the Sokoto formula.
The move to Dingiray presaged the structure of the entire jihaad. Umar would recruit from the west to wage war against the “pagan” east of the Mandinka and Bambara, whose armies had plagued the societies of Fuuta-Jalon and Senegambia. He would draw his weapons from British sources around Freetown and French sources along the Senegal and use this superior weaponry against the muskets, lances, and arrows of his more land-locked foes. This structure was highly successful for conquest. It was decidedly less so for administration and the spread of Islam.
1. The most complete account of the Tijaniyya is Jamil Abun-Nasr, The Tijaniyya. A Sufi Order in the Modern World, 1965. See especially pp. 15-57 and 101-6.
2. This is the implication, for example, of Trimingham's discussion of the Tijaniyya in conjunction with the Wahhabis and their intense disdain for most Sufi movements, in The Sufi Orders in Islam (1971), pp. 107 ff.
3. This is shown in the different postures of the Algerian and Senegambian Tijaniyya in relation to French imperialism. In Algeria, the lodges refused to resist, while in West Africa Umar became, for a moment, the principal opponent of French expansion. See Abun-Nasr, Tijaniyya, chapters 4 and 5.
4. See chapter 2, note 18. Umar initially avowed his introduction to the Tijaniyya through Abdul Karim and Mawlud Fal, a Mauritanian scholar. He subsequently replaced it with the direct affiliation through Muhammad al-Ghali (see below and Gaden's discussion in Segu 3/Cam, pp. 7-8, as well as Umar's major treatise, Kitaab Rimaah Hizb al-Rahiim 'ala Nuhur Hizb al-Rajim, published in the margins of Ali Harazim, Kitaab Jawaahir al-Ma'ani wa Buluugh al-Amani, Cairo, 1383 AH/1963-4. Umar completed Rimaah in 1845.) By the 1830s, if not before, the Tijaniyya existed in Fuuta-Tooro alongside the stronger Qadiriyya allegiance, organized particularly around Sidiyya al-Kabir in southern Mauritania and the Wan family of Mbumba. See BNP, MO, FA 5681, fos. 4-5, Kamara, Zuhuur, vol. 2, fos. 189-90; Stewart, Social order, pp. 78 ff., and P. Marty, “L'Islam en Mauritanie et au Sénégal”, RMM 31 (1915-16), pp. 239 ff.
5. According to Ba and Daget (Empire peul, p. 234), Seku Amadu issued a general invitation to visit Hamdullahi just after its creation.
6. M. A. Al-Hajj, “The 13th century in Muslim eschatology: Mahdist expectations in the Sokoto Caliphate ”, RB, CAD 3.2 (1967). North Africa and the Near East were subject to the same turmoil.
7. On the pilgrimage, see al-Naqar, Tradition, and Terence Walz, Trade between Egypt and Bilad as-Sudan, 1700-1820 (1978), esp. pp. 1-28. The pilgrimage was much more common from Bornu than from the Western Sudan. See John Works, Pilgrims in a Strange Land. Hausa Communities in Chad, 1976.
8. Relatives in Halwar and neighbouring villages praised Umar for his pilgrimage in the 1830s. They were probably not as enthusiastic before his departure. BNP, MO, FA 5693, fos. 4-5; al-Naqar, Pilgrimage, p. 66. The tradition of St. Louis support appears in Carrère and Holle, Sénégambie française, p. 192 and in MSD of 27 Sept. 1864.
9. Aliyu, a son of Saidu by Yumma Aisse, accompanied Umar and died on the journey back between the Fezzan and Bornu. See Segu 3/Cam, p. 16, and Umar's Tadhlirat al-Ghafilin, of BNP, MO, FA, 5609, fos. 19-34. Claudine Gerresch has now published an edited version and French translation of this document: “Tadhkirat al-Ghafilin, ou un aspect pacifique peu connu de la vie d'Al-Hajj Umar. Texte arabe et traduction annotée”, BIFAN, B, 1977. The scattered references to the rest of the entourage are found in Bâ and Daget, Empire peul, p. 234; al-Naqar, Tradition, p. 66; Nioro 2/Adam, p. 604; and the 2nd interview with Amadou Wendou Node N'Diaye. On Umar's route and the annual Tuat. caravan at pilgrimage time, see Rimah, vol. 1, p. 181; al-Naqar, Tradition, pp. 65-76 and 92-113; and Walz, Trade, pp. 22 ff.
10. These claims appear in A. Arcin, Histoire de la Guinee française (1911) p. 103n; I. Wilks, “The Saghanughu and the spread of Maliki law: a provisional note”, RB, CAD 2.2 (1966), p. 11; Segu 3/Cam, p. 6; interview with Mamadou Lamine Soumbounou, Bamako, 6-8 August 1976; and in other locations. Another erroneous tradition derives from Hugh Clapperton's reference to a “Hadji Omer from Foota Tora” whom he met in Hausaland on Omer's return from the pilgrimage in 1826 ( Journal of a Second Expedition into the Interior of Africa /1829, reprinted 1966/, pp. 202-3, 229-30). This has led some commentators, such as Martin (in “Notes”, 1969), to place the pilgrimage before 1826.
11. Principally Rimah, cited in note 4. See also the 'Iqd al-Jumaan (BNP, MO, FA 5559, fos. 41-9, and 5734, fos. 116-20) and another account in 5734, fos. 46-51.
12. Rimah, vol. 1, p. 181.
13. Rimah, vol. 1, p. 184.
14. Rimah, vol. 1, p. 183.
15. Rimah, vol. 1, pp. 189-90. For a general discussion of istikhaara and its application to Umar, see Willis, “Jihaad”, p. 406. The doctrine became particularly important at the time of declaring the jihaad in 1852.
16. Segu 3/Cam, p. 13.
17. Rimah, vol. 1, p. 189. Fatima played no important role subsequently. She may be the woman described by Soleillet ( Voyage, p. 363) as four years older than Amadu Sheku ; she was married at Dingiray, then widowed and living at Segu in 1879. Her mother is not identified.
18. Tadhkirat al-Mustarshidiin, completed on 9 Apr. 1829. A copy may be found in the BNP, MO, FA, 5708, fos. 128-37.
19. This contest appears in many accounts, including Segu 3/Cam, pp. 14-15. The most elaborate version appears in Ba and Daget, Empire peul, pp. 238-40, and is consistent with the obvious pleasure which they take in showing how Umar “bested” al-Bekkay in Sokoto. See below.
20. Umar reported that Ghali's last admonition to him came in the form of the statement : “The best of princes are those who repair to the learned, but the worst of the learned are those who frequent princes.” Rimah, vol. I, p. 185, quoted in B. G. Martin, Muslim Brotherhoods in Nineteenth-Century Africa (1976), p. 72.
21. Soleillet, Voyage, p. 361.
22. See J. Abun-Nasr, A History of the Maghrib (1971), pp. 195-201, for a useful summary of developments in Tripoli and the Fezzan. Kola Folayan ( Tripoli during the Reign of Yusuf Pasha Qaramanli, 1979) gives more detail; see pp. 78-105 on the tension between Bornu and Tripoli during the early 1820s. Umar apparently wrote a poem in praise of the Pasha (BNP, MO, FA 5519, fo. 29).
23. For Bornu and its relationships with the north, see Barth, Travels, vol. 2, pp. 235, 325, 327, 482, and 553-4; E. W. Bovill, ed., Missions to the Niger (4 vols., 1966), vol. 3, pp. 394, 449, 539-54, and 576 ff; and L. Brenner, The Shehus of Kukawa (1973) pp. 50-5.
24. As indicated in a letter from Muhammad al-Jawhari b. al-Qadi Ahmad, qadi of Murzuk, written to Umar in Sokoto on 2 Apr. 1836. BNP, MO, FA, 5693, fo. 7 v.
25. This was the Tadhkirat al-Ghaafiliin cited in note 9.
26. BNP, MO, FA, 5693, fos. 1-2. For a French translation of most of this letter, see Martin, “Notes”, pp. 284-5.
27. al-Naqar, Tradition, pp. 144-5. The recipient of this licence was Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Mai Ali, and he was apparently about 17 years of age at the time. His grandfather had ruled in the late eighteenth century. The text which al-Naqar gives (p. 145) suggests a date of 29 June 1830 for the licence, but this is about one year too early for Umar's passage.
28. Rimah, vol. 1, pp. 189-90.
29. Gaden in Qaçida, p. 17n, and Mage, Voyage, p. 142. Mage makes no mention of the Bornu hostilities, suggesting that it was not considered particularly important in Segu in 1864-6. There is one additional piece of Bornu material, a rather friendly letter from al-Kanemi to Umar dated 7 Feb. 1836. It was probably part of the Bandiagara archives taken by the French in 1893, it is found in ANS, 15G 79, piece 82.
30. Especially to Segu l/Mage and Segu 3/Cam.
31. Al-haajj Sa'id, Taqaayiid mimmaa wasala ilainaa min ahwal umaraa' al-muslimiin salaatiin hausa, often called Ta'rikh Sokoto. A printed text and French translation was prepared by O. Houdas in his edition of Tedzikeret en-Nisian (1899). See Last, Caliphate, pp. xxxix-xlii; BNP, MO, FA 5422, fos 1-14; chapter 9, note 32.
32. See Last, “An aspect of the Caliph Muhammad Bello's social policy”, Kano Studies 1.2 (1966).
33. On the Kunta network, see Saad, “Social history”, pp. 374-7.
34. These facts come from a corpus of letters exchanged by Sokoto and the Kunta and appearing in BNP, MO, FA, 5599, fos. 11-27; see also some references in 5259, fos. 218-19. Sidi Amar, the younger brother of al-Bekkay, also made the visit and made a better impression, according to Barth (Travels, vol. 3, p. 448) than his older brother.
35. In a letter written in 1862. BNP, MO, FA, 5259, fos. 66-8.
36. Bâ and Daget, Empire peul, pp. 243-4.
37. Ibid., p. 244.
38. Al-Naqar (Tradition, p. 75) gives Umar considerable influence from the beginning of his stay, based on one reference in Sa'id's Ta'riikh Sokoto ( p. 308 of the translation).
39. Said, Ta'rikh Sokoto, pp. 309-11 of the translation. For more general accounts of Bello's reign in the 1830s, see Adeleye, Power, pp. 62 ff., Johnston, Empire, pp. 122 ff. and Last, Caliphate, pp. 63 ff.
40. The date for Amadu comes from the “succession chronicle” cited in chapter 1, note 19. It gives Amadu an age of 24 years, 3 months, and 20 days in mid-February 1860, which works out to a birth in July 1836 according to the lunar calendar. Makki apparently was the same or almost the same age as Amadu. See Rimah, 1, p. 190, Segu 3/Cam, p. 19; ANS IG 23 (for May 1865) and IG 46, piece 2, p. 5; interview with Bougouboly Alfa Makki Tal in Bandiagara on 19 Aug. 1976. Much confusion has been created around the wives of Umar. Faidherbe (“Notes” in RMC, 1866, p. 673) has Amadu as the son of Mariam and thus a potential candidate for the Sokoto throne. De Loppinot (“Souvenirs”, p. 38) and Pietri (Les Français au Niger, 1885, p. 102) have Amadu as the son of a slave woman and thus disadvantaged in the struggle for succession. Oloruntimehin (Empire, p. 40) has compounded the confusion by equating Aisha with Mariam and making her the mother of Habib, and reserving Satura, an honorific for Aisha, for the ex-slave and mother of Amadu. The official names for the children were Ahmad al-Madani, Muhammad al-Makki, Muhammad al-Habib, and Muhammad al-Mukhtar. See also chapter 1, note 40.
41. Rimah, I, p. 190.
42. Kamara, Zuhuur, vol. 1, fos. 27-8. This passage is also contained in Kamara's work on Umar; see Samb, “Omar par Kamara”, pp. 796-8.
43. Copies are found in BNP, MO, FA, 5401, fos. 1-38; 5651, fos. 406-39, and 6108, fos. 100-31 (this one is incomplete). It was completed on 8 Mar. 1837. He also wrote Ifaadat al-Ta'ifa al-insiyya w'al-janiyya in 1835 (Jah, “Sufi basis”, pp. 32-3) and al-Maqasid al-saniyya li kulli mawaffaq mina'l du'at ila Allah mina al-raa'i wa'l-ra'iyya in 1835 or 1836 (copies may be found in BNP, MO, FA, 5485, fos. 160-203; 5573, fos. 90-145; 5605, fos. 30-62; and 5608, fos. 270-89).
44. Most of this information comes from a member of the court circle, Muhammad Raji b. 'Ali, in a letter to a certain Khalil (BNP, MO, FA, 5716, fos. 65-71). Muhammad Raji was himself a Tijani and speaks of Sa'id b. Muhammad Aminu who joined the Tijaniyya partly on the basis of a recommendation from Bello. Last, Caliphate, pp. 216-19. On visits to tombs, see Abun-Nasr, Tijaniyya, pp. 39-40.
45. On the wives' visions, see Rimah, vol. 1, pp. 189-90. On Bello's recommendation, see note 68.
46. Bâ and Daget, Empire peul, pp. 245-6.
47. BNP, MO, FA, 5693, fo. 4 r. See also 5681, fos. 4-5 (Muhammad Fadil Ibra Jatara to Umar) and 5693, fo. 5 r (Eliman Gede Shaikh Ibrahim to Umar).
48. Said, Ta'riikh Sokoto, pp. 325-9 of the translation.
49. The most elaborate version is once again Bâ and Daget, Empire peul, pp. 234-5. It may also be found in attenuated form in 2 internal chronicles (Segu 2/anonymous and Nioro 2/Adam, p. 605). Rimah (vol. 1, p. 181) only mentions the trip to Maasina en route to Mecca. The incident between Umar and the young Amadu is sometimes placed in the journey to Mecca, which occurred several years before Amadu was born.
50. BNP, MO, FA, 5684, fos. 138-42.
51. The best summary of Maasina society at this time is Johnson, “Economic Foundations”.
52. On Hamdullahi-Kunta relations, see Bâ and Daget, Empire peul, pp. 273-85.
53. BNP, MO, FA, 5519, fos. 96-7. The author's full Arabic name was al-Mukhtar b. Wadi'at Allah. Wadii'cat Allah, “trust in God”, becomes Yirkoy Talfi in Songhay. See chapter 8, note 10.
54. Bâ and Daget, Empire peul, pp. 246-7. See also W. Brown, “Caliphate”, pp. 149 ff.; and interview with Mamadou Lamine Soumbounou, Bamako, 6-8 Aug. 1976.
55. In addition to Yirkoy Talfi, four other disciples of Umar apparently studied initially with the Kunta: Ahmad Tafsir, Modibo Dauda, Alfa Umar al-Awsi and Mamadu Uthman. See chapter 8, section A.
56. BNP, MO, FA, 5605, fos. 10-14, in addition to the letter cited in note 53. One piece of evidence, however, suggests some continuing communication between the Hamdullahi dynasty and Umar: a letter which purports to be Amadu III writing to Umar about a purchase of books through one of Umar's disciples. ANS 15G 79, piece 54 (a French translation is in 15G 74, piece 131). For Bekkay's criticism of Umar's Suyuf al-Saa'id, see 5716, fo. 32.
57. Second interview with Bougouboly Alfa Makki Tal, in Bandiagara 20 Aug. 1976. The other instances are found in an interview with Bokar Sango in Segu 14 Aug. 1976, and in a 1975 interview with Allaye Mamoudou Sekou of Hamdallaye by Ibrahima Barry and used in Barry's mémoire de fin d'études, “Le royaume peul du Maasina de 1845 à la veille de la conquête toucouleur. Etude socio-historique' (Ecole Normale Supérieure, Bamako, 1974-5).
58. Travels, vol. 3, p. 318. On the Kunta-Segu connection, see also Marty, Soudan, vol. 4, pp. 47-52, 60, and 84; C. Monteil, Les Bambara de Ségou et de Kaarta (1924), pp. 48-9; and S. Sauvageot, Contribution à l'histoire du royaume bambara de Ségou (XVIIIe et XIXe siècles) (1965), pp. 151-3.
59. The arrest probably occurred in Nyamina, the imprisonment at Segu. Mage had particularly good information about Segu because of his conversations with a talibé named Cerno Abdul Segu, who lived in Segu during much of the 1840s and 1850s. See Voyage, pp. 143, 154-5.
60. On the important links between knowledge in jurisprudence and Sufism and the role played by Sidi al-Mukhtar, see Stewart, “Scholarship,” and 'Abd-al-'Aziz Batran, “The Kunta, Sidi al-Mukhtar al-Kunti and the office of Shaiykh at-Tariiqa al-Qadiriyya” in Willis, ed., Studies.
61. BNP MO, FA 5732, fos. 90-2.
62 Umar's principal relationships in Timbo during the 1820s were probably with the Alfaya, which would help to explain the differential receptions in 1840-1. There is no confirmation of this, and Abdul Karim al-Naqil's affiliation is not known. From the 1820s on, the Alfaya had better ties with the British in Freetown while the Soriya enjoyed better relations with the French. This plays in to British and French perceptions of Timbo. It may also correlate with the presence of Freetown Muslims in Umar's Fuuta-Jalon headquarters and with Umar's proven ability to obtain British weapons during the jihaad. See Hecquard, Voyage, p. 272; McGowan, “Development”. The principal narrative for the early or Jegunko period in Fuuta-Jalon is Dingiray/Reichardt; the relevant portions of the translation are in Reichardt, Grammar, pp. 289-91. Umar probably travelled around Fuuta before settling in Jegunko. He apparently visited Satina in Labe province. BNP, MO, FA 5605, fos. 52-3.
63. In addition to the sources cited in note 4, see ANS 9G 40, Chemise Braknas, 169, and Marty, Braknas, pp. 184-7, where the particularly close relation between the Wan of Mbumba and the Meterambrin Kunta is discussed.
64 Dingiray/Reichardt, my translation from the Fulfulde of p. 249. For Kolen province, see Arcin, Histoire, p. 95, and Nioro 2/Adam, p. 612.
65. Marty, Guinée, pp. 149-50, 177. Umar claimed that the Tijaniyya had been embraced by the majority of Fuuta-Jalon by about 1851 (Saf'iinat al-Sa'aada, fos. 4-5, in BNP, MP, FA, 5485), but this is unlikely. See also Dingiray/Reichardt, p. 249. For Umar's Alfaya support, see the Fulfulde poem in the Fonds Vieillard, Fuuta-Jalon, cahier 42; BNP, MO, FA 5671, especially fos. 48-9.
66. Risaalat Sawq al-Habiib ilaa as'ilat Ibrahim al-Labib, from BNP, MO, FA, 5724, fos. 61-7. For a discussion of this manuscript, see Jah, “Sufi basis”, pp. 29 and 144. Willis (“Doctrinal basis”, chapter 4) treats passages on dhimmi status and slavery, but he identifies the manuscript only as a fatwa.
67. For a discussion of libraries and pedagogy in contemporary Senegal, see El Hadji Ravane M'Baye, “L'Islam au Sénégal”, thèse de doctorat de 3è cycle, University of Dakar, 1975-6, and his “Contribution à l'étude de l'Islam au Sénégal”, mémoire de maîtrise d'arabe, University of Dakar, 1972-3.
68. Dingiray/Reichardt, my translation of p. 250. Umar had no younger brother after the death of Aliyu on the return from Mecca, and there is no evidence that Aliyu married and had children.
69. The three principal wives were Mariatu, Aisha, and Mariam; the first two were part of the Jegunko community while Mariam died before the departure from Sokoto. Other women from Nigeria were Hassana, the wife of Alfa Amadu and mother of Tijani, Batuli Hausa, the mother of three sons of Umar (Hadi, Muntaga and Amidu), Jeynaba Hausa, the mother of one of Umar's sons (Murtada), and a concubine who raised Mariatu's children after her death about 1847. See above, notes 40 and 41.
70. Dingiray/Reichardt, pp. 289-90 of the translation. The clearly identifiable Bari disciples are Ibrahim b. Ahmad b. Muhammad Seriyanke of Fugumba (BNP, MO, FA, 5707 passim), Hamidu Heriko of the Alfaya branch at Timbo (Marty, Guinée, 242-3), Muhammad Ali Seriyanke b. Shaikh al-Hassan (5709; 5573, fos. 73-9; Tyam, Qaçida, p. 31, and Mage, Voyage, p. 158).
71. On Alfa Mamudu, see Y. Person, Samori (3 vols., 1968-74), vol. 1, pp. 155-9, 176.
72. Saif ud-Din al-Harazim, “The origin and progress of Islam in Sierra Leone”, SLS, old series, 21 (1939), 19-20; B. Harrell-Bond et al., Community Leadership and the Transformation of Freetown (1801-1976) (1978), pp. 133-4. The “blisters” quote appears in Harrell-Bond, Leadership, 134, and is taken from CO 267/193, D 119, 13 July 1846. Note that al-Harazim has the same name as al-Tijani's official biographer; see above, note 4.
73. Al-Harazim, “Origins”, p. 21. Informants forget Jegunko, which was completely eclipsed by Dingiray after 1849.
74. One of the two principal factions of the Aku Muslims in the late nineteenth century, the one calling for a strict attitude towards Yoruba Egungun practices, was called Tamba in memory of the Umarian jihad. Harrell-Bond et al., Leadership, pp. 106-11.
75. The one possible exception is Alfa Muhammad Yakaya of the Dingiray/Reichardt chronicle (p. 209 of the translation), who is almost certainly the Alfa Muhammad Yadali of the Freetown accounts who was named muqaddim or deputy for Freetown by Umar. Yakaya/Yadali does not, however, appear in any accounts of the jihaad proper; by 1852 or earlier, he was probably back in Freetown.
76. The best account is Dingiray/Reichardt, pp. 289-91 of the translation. For the French claims, see Mage, Voyage, pp. 144; Carrère and Holle, Sénégambie, pp. 191 ff. and A. Le Chatelier, L'Islam dans L'Afrique occidentale (1899), p. 171.
77. Thomson in CMS, CAI/0214-0220, letter of 22 July 1842. Thomson's letters provide an unparalleled picture of Fuuta-Jalon in the early 1840s, although he was confined to Timbo and the camp of Almamy Bakar. 78. From Thomson's letter of 19 Jan. 1843 in CAI/0214-0220. Thomson ascribed Bakar's discouragement of slave-raiding to his good character; it was probably a function of age and Alfaya weakness.
79. Tadhkirat li-'islaah dhaat 'I-bayn min al-fi'atayn al-'azimatayn, found in the BNP, MO, FA 5744, fos. 45-6 (another copy is found in volume 5716, fos. 28-9).
80. The only Umarian chronicle to report the intervention is Dingiray/ Reichardt, p. 290 of the translation. Person (in the article cited in chapter 2, note 8) puts the intervention in 1844, while Guebhard (“L'histoire du Fouta Djalon et des Almamys”, BCAF, RC 1909, p. 85) and Hecquard (Voyage pp. 341-5) put it in 1851-2. The later date fits much less well with Shaikh Umar's situation. Hecquard (Voyage, p. 309) attributes another instance of reconciliation between Almamies Umar and Bakar to Nene Kajata, Almamy Umar's mother. Guebhard may be correct in claiming that Shaikh Umar was able to restore Bakar to power for a few months, but he is in error in asserting that Shaikh Umar succeeded in getting the two houses to alternate in power. The principle of alternation had existed since the late eighteenth century, and no one before the Hubbu threat was able to get the Almamies to adhere to it.
81. The fullest accounts of the Hubbu revolt are found in the chapter of Person cited in chapter 2, note 8; J. Bayol, Voyage en Sénégambie, 1888, pp. 106-12; and Alfa Ibrahima Sow, La Femme, la vache, la foi, 1966, pp. 222-9, and Chroniques et récits du Fouta Djalon, 1968, pp. 137-41.
82. Geographically and politically Umar's journey bears some resemblance to Koli Tengella's move from Fuuta-Jalon to Fuuta-Tooro. See the Boulègue and Person articles cited in chapter 2, note 5.
83. The Jakhanke were close to the basic Kunta position on jihaad. See notes 34 and 60. For a general description of Tuba, see:
84. Interview with Arfan Diama Giakhaby by Philip Curtin at Medine Diakha, 8 Apr. 1966. A similar account is found in my interview with Jeli Moussa Diabate in Kayes, 13 Sept. 1976, session 1, and in Hunter, “Jahanka”, pp. 266-7.
85. The opposition takes the stereotypical form of assassins sent to ambush Umar en route (e.g. Nioro 2/Adam, p. 612). The same formula is used in Bornu and on the journey from Maasina to Kangaba. It is difficult to determine how real the opposition was.
86. The best known examples of this linkage occur in Fuladu, where Umar allegedly made a prophecy concerning the future career of Alfa Molo (cf. Le Chatelier, Islam, p. 172, and Arcin, Histoire, p. 105), and in Rip, where Umar gave his blessing to Ma Ba Diakhu (Le Chatelier, Islam, pp. 173-5, and T. O. Ba, “Essai historique sur le Rip (Sénégal)”, BIFAN, B, 572. Umar probably did pass through Pakao in Casamance where a jihaad between local Muslims and chiefs had been underway since 1843. Nioro 2/Adam, p. 613 Nioro 3/Delafosse, p. 357; Hecquard, Voyage, pp. 95-7; M. Schaffer and C. Cooper, Mandinko (1980), pp. 72-8.
87. On Sidiyya al-Kabir, see Stewart, Social Order, and note 4. For the coalitions, see Johnson, “Almamate”, chapter 7, and Robinson, Chiefs and Clerics, chapters I and 2.
88. The visit to Fuuta-Tooro has been virtually obliterated from the oral tradition by the much more intense recruitment mission of 1858-9. It is recalled only in a few French accounts (Carrère and Holle, Sénégambie, pp. 194-5, and Mage, Voyage, pp. 144-5) and in the internal accounts of Segu 3/Cam and Nioro 2/Adam.
89. Kamara, Zuhuur, vol. 2, fos. 189-90. The Almamy was Babaly Ly of Jaba in Hebiabe province, and he was probably affiliated with the Qadiriyya.
90. Nioro 2/Adam and Nioro 3/Delafosse; Segu 3/Cam, pp. 39 and 51; Segu 2/anonymous; Samb, “Omar par Kamara”, pp. 66-9. The single most important recruit was Alfa Umar Cerno Baila Wan, from the junior branch of the Wan and the Ngenar village of Kanel. Alfa Umar would help Shaikh Umar overcome some of the problems of his Toro origin and central Fuuta bias. See Mage, Voyage, pp. 186-7.
91. On Bundu, see Segu 2/anonymous, Nioro 2/Adam, p. 614, and Nioro 3/Delafosse, p. 357. On Gunjuru, see Curtin, Economic Change, vol. 1, pp. 71 (map), 72-4. Its importance emerges in the period between 1854 and 1857; see chapters 4 and 6.
92. The only available sources are Carrère and Holle, Sénégambie, pp. 194-6, Mage, Voyage, pp. 144-5; Segu 2/anonymous; Nioro 2/Adam, p. 614; and Nioro 3/Delafosse, p. 357.
93. ANS 13G 139, piece 16, Umar's letter to Governor Gramont and Directeur Caille, received 25 June 1847 (Arabic with French translation).
94. McGowan, “Development”, pp. 429-30, drawn mainly from Hecquard, Voyage, pp. 95-7, 282, and 307-11.
95. Safiinat as-Sa'aada, BNP, MO, FA 5485, fos. 4-5.
96. On Tamba see Arcin, Histoire, pp. 104-5; René Caillié, Journal d'un voyage à Temboctou et à Jenne (3 vols., 1830), vol. 1, pp. 284-348; McGowan, “Development,” chapters 3, 4; Person, Samori, vol. 1, pp. 156, 165; Dingiray/Reichardt, pp. 291-2 of the translation.
97. ANS 13G 22, pièce 7, mémoire of interim Governor to regular Governor, 24 Sept. 1837.
98. Person, Samori, vol. 1, p. 156.
99. Willis makes the strongest case for conformity to a Muhammadan and Uthmanian norm (in “Jihaad”), using works written by Umar before the move to Dingiray, and especially Rimah, and highly apologetic works like Segu 3/Cam. Cam is the only internal narrative to suggest the analogy of hijra here (see pp. 17-30, 36-7).
100. ANS 7G 39, piece 55 (report from Dingiray, 5 Sept. 1897). At issue was whether any of the Dingiray area fell under the jurisdiction of Fuuta-Jalon. See also 15G 75, section 1.
101. Interview with Saki N'Diaye by Philip Curtin, Dakar, Apr. 1966. A short Arabic document gives the names of twelve early disciples at Dingiray and suggests the same pattern of slow movement to the new site (BNP, MO FA, 5713, fo. 190).
102. The tribute to the “pagan” king was a source of embarrassment to the Umarian chroniclers. Cf. Segu 3/Cam, p. 30.
103. On the links between Dingiray and Freetown, see ANS IG 32, piece 35, p. 28 (report of Mage of 21 June 1866), and 15G 75, section 1, piece 4 (report of 25 Jan. 1889); SLA for 1878-85; and P. K. Mitchell, “Trade routes of the early Sierra Leone Protectorate,” SLS 16 June 1962).
104. The fullest accounts of the preparatory years are Arcin, Histoire, p. 106; Dingiray/Reichardt, pp. 292-4 of the translation; and Mage, Voyage, pp. 144-6.
105. See note 101.
106. Segu 2/anonymous. Note the central role which many African traditions accord to the capture of a griot, as in the conflict of Sundiata and Sumaoro. D. T. Niane, Sundiata: an Epic of Old Mali, 40. Segu 2/anonymous and Dingiray/Reichardt show considerable sympathy for the political dilemma of Yimba. In the former case, this may be explained by the presence of Jeli Musa and his son Sutuku at Amadu's court in Segu. Gaden, ed., Qacida, p. 30n.; Mage, Voyage, pp. 127, 136-8, 207-8, 407, 421-7, 441-5.
107. Bandiagara/Abdullay Ali, pp. 246-8; Segu 3/Cam, p. 31.
108. In late 1852 or early 1853 Almamy Umar held up several hundred recruits from Fuuta-Tooro while the siege of Tamba was in progress. After the victory over Tamba city, the Almamy apparently gave his full support. See Bandiagara/Abdullay Ali, pp. 247-8. One reason for the conflict may have been disagreement over booty (the suggestion of 7G 39, pieces 52 and 55). One reason for the change may have been the necessity of closing ranks against the Hubbu revolt, which apparently broke out in 1853.
109. The authorization came out of the procedure of entreaty called istikhaara discussed in note 15. See also Salenc, “Vie”, pp.411-12.
110. The fullest description of the struggle against Tamba from this point on is Bandiagara/Abdullay Ali.
111. Dingiray/Reichardt (pp. 297-303 of the translation) gives the greatest insight into the difficulties of the siege. Bandiagara/Abdullay Ali also shows Umar's hesitation. See also Lt. Oderdorf's account of his mission to the Dingiray area in 1887 (ANS IG 82, piece 1).
112. See note 108.
113. Segu l/Mage, p. 147.
114. ANS I 3G 166, piece 56, letter of Commander Rey to the Governor, 25 Apr. 1853. The victory was also celebrated in a Fulfulde poem, written in Arabic characters and found in Fonds Vieillard, Fuuta-Jalon, cahier 43.
115. Mage gives a description of the importance of controlling Bure (Voyage, p. 147; ANS IG 32, piece 35, p. 9). It was very probably just after the conquest of Bure that Alfa Mamudu Kaba of Kankan left the Umarian jihaad to wage a war of his own at home. He was successful for a time and may have written about his success on at least one occasion to Umar (BNP, MO, FA 5480, fos. 72 and 80). He did not receive a “flag” from Umar, but his case is the only instance which resembles the structure of the Uthmanian jihaad. On his efforts see Person, Samori, vol. I, 155-9.
116. The most useful accounts of Dingiray province in the late nineteenth century are ANS IG 50 (Vallière); Lt. Bouchez, “Notice sur le Dingiray”, RC, New Series, I ( 1901-2); J. S. Galliéni, Deux campagnes au Soudan français, 1886-8 (1891), pp. 306-7 and 472-82; and the sources cited in notes 103 and 111.
117. The Fulfulde Dabatu is derived from the Arabic Tabatu or Tayyibatu. See Mahibou and Triaud, Voilà, p. 231; Segu 3/Cam, pp. 10-14, 25-37.
118. On Samori and Agibu, see Person, Samori, I, pp. 323 ff., and II, pp.611 ff.
119. Bâ, Sage de Bandiagara, pp. 11 ff., and my interview with him in Abidjan on 18 Sept. 1976; Dumont, Anti-Sultan, p. 216; Jah, Sufi basis, pp. 267-73, Willis, Doctrinal basis, chapters 3 and 4.
120. Dingiray/Reichardt, my translation from p. 261.